GUNNEDAH stamped itself as a genuine title contender with a comprehensive win over Narrabri at Gunnedah on Saturday.
It is still early days but the Red Devils’ 42-14 win over last years semi-finalists was the talking point around the zone.
There were no last minute heroics required like the week before as the they produced a controlled and commanding performance.
“We’re very happy,” co-coach Nick Hannaford said.
“It was good.”
It was a big win, and not just on the scoreboard, with the Red Devils not having tasted a lot of success against the Blue Boars in recent years.
Last year they were beaten in both encounters.
On Saturday they were strong across the field, but particularly up front.
That was where the win was set up – in the forwards.
“Our lineout, we lost a couple so its definitely an area to improve on, but our scrum and phase play were great,” Hannaford said.
“We made a lot of metres through the centre and the support play was good.”
They were also very damaging at the breakdown contest.
“The speed of the game was a lot quicker (than the previous week), which allowed our loose forwards to pilfer a bit of ball,” Hannaford said.
Bar a couple of lapses in the last five minutes of both halves, the defence was quite solid and the communication was good.
And while the forward pack in general were impressive the back three of Joel McKenty, Sam Michelsen and Manaia Rehr stood out.
As for the backs, Scott Mitchell was handy on the wing and finished off well.
Joe Norman on debut also had a strong game running the show at five-eighth.
It was a come down for the Blue Boars after thrashing Pirates last week but they just weren’t on their game.
“Some days you just are not good enough,” coach Jason Elms said.
That was the case on Saturday with the Red Devils playing well and deserving their win. “Gunnedah were very good today. Their backrow was strong, their scrum was good and we struggled to get any level of continuity or sequence of play,” Elms said.
Having enjoyed a wealth of possession the week before they were on the other end this time, struggling to get their hands on the ball, especially in the first half.
“It was 20-7 at half-time and for probably 30 minutes of the first half we were defending,” Elms said.